cross-team dependencies

Agile QuickTip: Don’t Manage Cross-Team Dependencies – Eliminate Them

Don’t manage cross-team dependencies – eliminate them.

One of the biggest challenges that a scrum team has to contend with when working in a multi-team, or scaled enterprise environment is managing cross-team dependencies. This is where your team is dependent on some other team to deliver something of their own, before you can make any progress. This could be anything from some data you’re waiting for, a design someone has to deliver in the Marketing team or from an external freelancer, or a web service or core module that you’re waiting on from another development team before you can do what you need to do.

A critical technique to helping your team to be successful is actually finding strategies to shift those dependencies from being what we call ‘finish-start’ to ‘finish-finish’ dependencies.

While finish-start means that you need to wait for someone else to finish before you can begin, finish-finish means you can still make progress, even while you wait for the other team to complete their own task. High priority items need immediate attention, so your job is to facilitate your team in abstracting those dependencies – decoupling them so that you can make progress on your part, without having to wait deliverables from other teams. Here are some ways to make that happen:

  • Create mock objects or mock services
  • Use some generic or rudimentary design while you wait for the real one
  • Create some mocked up data or hard coded data while you wait for the live data

The possibilities are limitless, depending on the task you’re waiting on, but this way you and your team can continue to make progress on these high priority items even while you wait on other teams. This way your team can focus on their high-value, high-priority items – build and test all functionality and even get user feedback without having to wait on dependent teams.  Making progress is more important than having the final version. Of course, later on there’ll be some additional work to integrate what you’ve done with these teams, but by then, that’s just the minority of the work that remains.

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